By Candacee White
Gyeongju
South Korea
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Gyeongju, a smaller city of about 200,000 in South Korea's North Gyeongsan province, is called the “museum without walls”, and for good reason. The city has been excavated to reveal vast amounts of historical artifacts and national treasures from the Shilla dynasty, of which Gyeongju was the capital during 57 BC – 935 AD.

EscapeWizard.com invites you to come and visit this ancient Korean capital, and see the tombs and treasures of this magnificent country. Gyeongju can be accessed by train or express bus from any major city in South Korea. You can book your flight through EscapeWizard.com by following this link (www.escapewizard.com/flight.php). If you are flying into South Korea, the Busan Gimhae International Airport (PUS) is a closer landing point than Seoul’s Incheon International Airport (ICN), but both will service Gyeongju quickly by bus or train. From Seoul, and express bus will take around 5 hours.

Start your tour of Gyeongju's historical treasures with a stroll through Tumuli park, located at the center of town. Tumuli Park is a complex of ancient burial mounds built over tombs. Many of the tombs were built for royalty and many are also identified by who was buried there, or what treasures were excavated from them.

From the Tumuli Park it is just a short walk to the Gyeongju National Museum. The museum contains over 16,000 relics and artifacts from the Shilla dynasty, a collection so large, it cannot all be displayed at once.  Many of the artifacts, such as a large cast bell and many Buddhist sculptures are displayed outside, a common Korean custom. Some of the most impressive pieces in the museum collection are gold crowns and jewelry worn by Shilla royalty. These pieces, excavated from the surrounding tombs and burial sites give the viewer an idea of what life was like for royalty living in Korea during the early 7th and 8th centuries.

After exploring the national museum, step outside for some fresh air, and walk over to Cheomsongdae, the oldest surviving astronomical observatory in East Asia. Although only about 30 feet high, the observatory is thought to have been built between the years 632-647 AD, and used for star gazing and astrological study.

Gyeongju is not only a site of great historical treasure, but cultural and religious as well. A trip to Gyeongju is incomplete without a visit to Bulguksa, a Buddhist temple to the east of the city, and a UNESCO World Heritage site which is highly recommended by us here at EscapeWizard.com. As the head temple of the Jogye order of Korean Buddhism, Bulguksa is also a popular tourist spot during the Buddha's birthday holiday, and during the fall, when the leaves turn red and yellow, making the temple appear to glow. Just a few miles east of the Bulguksa is the Seokguram grotto, a tiny hermitage atop a Toham Mountain containing an 11 foot-tall Buddha sculpted in the 8th century. The sculpture is a realistic representation of the Buddha, and considered among the best and most treasured examples of Korean Buddhist art.

After the long hike up Toham Mountain to see the grotto, EscapeWizard.com understands that you might be pretty tired and quite hungry. Before bidding Gyeongju farewell, try some of the local specialty cuisine. Gyeongju is famous for its Haejangkuk, also known as “hangover soup,” and a special type of pastry stuffed with sweet red bean paste called, appropriately “Gyeongju bread.”

EscapeWizard.com can promise you a fun and enlightening tour of South Korea's ancient capital. The beautiful scenery and rich cultural heritage will surely pique your interest to find out what else the Korean peninsula has in store.
Hotels in Gyeongju
By Emily Foley
Hilton Gyeongju
370, Shinpyung-dong, Gyeongju, 780-290, South Korea
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South Korea’s Gyeongju Hilton is situated in a quaint, coastal city that attracts millions of tourists each year. It is most easily reached via railway or bus from other cities or airports, like the busy resort town Busan, about 30 miles south. The distance keeps Gyeongju’s ancient ruins and many historical areas pristine! Upon arrival, guests may check in at 2 p.m., and may park for a fee. Staff can assist with luggage, which can also be checked with the front desk if necessary during sightseeing or other activities.

Standard rooms each feature a balcony with views of nearby mountain ranges, and have couches “ they’re quite spacious. Deluxe rooms offer complimentary green tea! All rooms include wireless internet access, televisions and marble bathrooms.

Dining and nightlife options inside the Gyeongju Hilton cater to any guest’s taste, ranging from upscale dinner fare of Asian and Mediterranean cuisines, to casual snacks or coffee and pastries. A swank cocktail lounge and a sky-high karaoke bar complete the experience. For those in Gyeongju wishing to stay in touch with the office, the Hilton offers a business center, secretarial services, and conference rooms. Other event spaces are available for anything from conventions to weddings.

One standout feature is the hotel’s pool- an attractive indoor area surrounded by floor-to-ceiling windows, where guests can relax or swim laps as they please. For more of a workout, there is a fitness center and a running track available. Children are welcome in these areas with parental supervision, of course, but there is a separate playground area, and childcare services are available from the hotel.

Sightseeing around the hotel affords a wealth of historical attractions dating back to South Korea’s Shilla Dynasty, of which Gyeongju was the capitol. Guests can enjoy visits to ancient Buddhist temples, museums and historical landmarks, as well as taking advantage of modern shopping and entertainment options throughout the city.

When leaving the Gyeongju Hilton, guests must check out by 12 p.m. However, it’s likely that a taste of this part of South Korea will only leave you wanting more! Use EscapeWizard.com to search for a great hotel in Gyeongju (www.escapewizard.com/hotels.php?flag=htl).